The warm and spirited response of readers of The Hindu to the praise showered on the daily by Khushwant Singh, distinguished writer, journalist, and diplomat, was special. In a letter to the editor that landed on the editorial desk out of the blue, the nonagenarian declared that although he used to “go over a dozen morning papers every day,” it was only The Hindu that he read “cover to cover.”
“I find its news coverage reliable, authentic and comprehensive,” he said, adding: “I cannot say that about any other daily, Indian or foreign.” He praised and congratulated the Editor and his team “for giving India the most readable daily in the world.”
In a spontaneous reaction, over a score of readers agreed with Khushwant Singh's assessment of the daily. Many readers admired the newspaper's determination to maintain its century-old high standards in English and “exemplary” social commitments. Some wondered how it could steer clear of hurdles to practising ethical journalism, particularly in the context of the rapid commercialisation of the profession as well as the industry. Others highlighted the virtues of quality news, objectivity, and balance in reporting. In-depth interviews with eminent persons by informed journalists also came in for appreciation.
Cooperation from all over
Some of those who wrote were contributors to the Open Page. The Hindu's greatest asset continues to be the goodwill the newspaper has earned from hundreds of thousands of readers over the decades. The Corrections and Clarifications column, and the institution of the Readers' Editor, an independent news ombudsman, on the lines worked out by The Guardian are all about the newspaper's accountability to its readers. The purpose is “to improve accuracy, verification and standards in the newspaper.”
The interest shown by alert readers in the “Corrections and Clarifications” column is impressive. Many do it with rare kind of dedication. Right from the start, the system has been working well with the willing cooperation of reporters, the editorial desks, and readers across the country who volunteer to spot the errors.
Question of significance
One question we face from time to time is whether minor errors, errors that are not so significant, errors caused by oversight should be taken up for correction. Recently, the last paragraph of an article published in the Sports Page of the newspaper asserted: “With covered pitches, the surface has little moisture which can be erased by heavy rollers in the morning....”
This was clearly not what the writer meant. The missing ‘a' (before little) has caused the confusion. Our readers seldom let something like that pass.
Corrections can be fun as long as you are not the writer or the sub-editor who committed the howler. Here are two of my favourites from Craig Silverman's “Regret The Error: How Media Mistakes Pollute the Press and Imperil Free Speech”:
OUR STORY on the price of tomatoes last week misquoted Alistair Petrie, general manager of Turners and Growers. Discussing the price of tomatoes Petrie was talking about retail rate not retail rape. We apologise for the misunderstanding. — Sunday Star - Times (New Zealand).
Australian cricketer Don Bradman was carried, not curried, off the field during the Ashes series in August 1938 (Heroic Hutton leads England to 903, page 12, the archive, November 6). — Guardian (UK).